Visiting India for the first time can a cultural shock. India is a country with many diversities that makes it different from other countries. There are certain habits that only Indians have. Meeting and Indian is equally interesting as exploring India. Here I have listed come of the peculiarities that just stand out in Indians.
You know you’ve met an Indian when…
Most of your questions are answered with the infamous Indian head nodding.
The Indian way of communication has always attracted many people around the world. The most confusing gesture or action is nodding the head the other person just gets confused for a yes or a no when an Indian shakes his/ her head. It’s not that difficult for Indians to understand but is very confusing for foreigners.
So what does that nodding means??
Well the meaning is as different as the situation. The nodding sometime means a Yes and sometime a No. But in most of the cases it’s a positive (affirmative) gesture. It is a silent way of saying Yes or Okay or Good or I understand (‘achha’ in Hindi).
When you pay a rikshawala or the shopkeeper and they nod their head, it means a ‘Thank You’.
If a stranger just smiles and nods his head when he looks at you, take it as a friendly and a kind gesture. For example if you sit next to a stranger in public place like a bench in the park of on a bus seat and the Indian just passed a smile with a head shake, that’s a friendly sign. A continuous head nodding means that the person understood everything you said. The faster is the nodding more is the understanding. Soon you’ll also develop the habit of shaking your head. That becomes a part of your communication as it has become for many Indians or all Indians. This Head nodding breaks all the cultural & language barriers between two people and unites them. It’s a case of “actions speak louder than words”.
They can’t say ‘No’
The Indian culture does not have a nonverbal way to express “no” and because it’s a community of people who believe hospitality as a sign of respect, that it is hard for Indian’s to say “no”. So they work around it.
For example, if you ask an Indian for directions… he won’t let you know that he doesn’t know the direction you asked for and will not disappoint you. He will find a way to give you some direction for sure. They just want to help you out in any way.
Another situation where an Indian can’t say ‘no’ is when you want to buy a particular thing and you ask the shopkeeper about that product, he’ll never say ‘no’. He’ll try his level best to give you a substitute is he doesn’t have that product available at his shop. For example: You’re looking for an navy blue shirt and you ask the shop keeper for one. He looks around and knows the store doesn’t have the color you’re looking for but he can’t say “no” or send you without trying to help you. So he shows you a light blue shirt. You shake your head. He then pulls out other shades of blue, but none are really navy blue. Then he starts showing you other colors of the rainbow, none of which even resemble the color you specified. You ask again if they have a NAVY blue shirt…and rather than tell you he doesn’t have it, he’ll try convincing you that the color you want is all wrong for you and you would look better another color all together. If you still don’t get that he doesn’t have it…he’ll ask you to wait for 5 mins, wherein he’ll get a boy in the shop or helper to dash off to a nearby store and get you that navy blue shirt and sell it to you. He’d go through all that trouble…rather than say “no” and send you empty handed.
So while the intent and motivation may be good, Indians can go to extremes to avoid saying “no” and being unkind. Sometimes it is detrimental to themselves and occasionally it is upsetting for the other person. But that’s Indian culture for you.
They speak their own version of English.
The English language in India has been localized by the people who use it. It is transformed in a complete new version of English to suit their comfort level. While English is not the first language quite a huge part of the population especially in cities under stand and speak it…at least their version of the language. It is molded and modified to fit into the Indian culture…it often spoken by mixing Hindi and English which is sometimes referred to as speaking Hinglish.
The next time you walk by a McDonald’s in India notice their slogan- “I’m Lovin’ it!”. The advertising agency might actually have been taking a playful dig at the Indian tendency to use progressive in static verbs like, “I am understanding it” or “She is knowing the answer”. Or they may have just catered to their target audience as this is the way many Indians speak English.
Indian’s use a lot of words and phrases, which are not really used in other English speaking countries. If you asked an Indian what their first language is…they’ll ask you “My mother tongue?”. ‘Mother Tongue’ is the phrase used by Indian’s to denote the regional language spoken in their native town which could be one of the many languages (there are over 1600 Indian dialects) spoken in India.
The word ‘Hotel’ when used by an Indian usually refers to a place where they can go and have their food. For them Restaurant and Hotel means the same. When you meet an Indian for the first time, you’ll notice a general tendency, he will for sure ask you about your “good name” and that time you might think “do i have a bad name as well?” Indian’s also have a habit of making up their own rhyming words to emphasize their point or to denote more. For example- “They are doing some shooting-vooting!” they mean- A movie is being shot there. Adding a rhyming word like ‘Let’s go out for some ice-cream-vice-cream’, means- ‘Let us go out for some ice-cream (ice-cream and stuff)’.
So when in India except to hear the hybrid language or so called Indian English which is not only spoken but you’ll find funny signs, hoardings and writings all around you.